Taking care of the sick is a career, a journey and a calling.
Keara Wright has always felt like nursing chose her. And as a nurse manager in the Adult Medical Specialty Unit (AMSU) at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center, she feels like being a leader chose her, too.
She began her nursing career on the east coast, but when her family moved to Bloomington, Illinois, she wanted to work for an organization respected by the community. She discovered OSF HealthCare, a mission-driven healthcare system with a family atmosphere. Because serving others is their divine calling, the Sisters call the people who work for them “Mission Partners.” Keara found the atmosphere of honesty and respect matched her own beliefs.
“As a bedside nurse, I became passionate about removing barriers for nurses and finding creative ways to support them doing what they do best: taking care of the sick,” Keara says. “I found myself challenging processes and demanding that leaders hear my voice. Before I knew it, I was a charge nurse, then supervisor, and then nurse manager.”
Challenges of Management
Nursing managers face many challenges—including a multi-generational workforce, the business side of healthcare, ethics and stiff competition for talent. Keara keeps her focus simple. “My number-one goal as a leader is to support nurses in their chaotic work environment by improving processes and removing barriers,” she says.
Her method for achieving this goal is equally simple. “Presence,” she explains. “As a leader, I am passionate about understanding the processes and barriers Mission Partners experience on a daily basis. The only way to achieve this goal is to get out there with the frontline staff and talk to them. Their ideas are endless.”
Working for AMSU
After interviewing with a panel of nurses from AMSU, Keara knew this was where she wanted to be. “During the interview, one of the Mission Partners looked me in the eyes and said, ‘We are a team on AMSU. We all work together and our current manager listens to our voice. Will you?’
“I was floored,” Keara adds. “I was so impressed that the Mission Partners wanted to not only work alongside of me as their leader, but would challenge me to do the same and shared their expectations with me. This was exactly what I was looking for.”
In one year, Keara has turned the AMSU team into a family. “Being a nurse is scary, and new nurses are fragile. The AMSU team will support you as you begin your career or enhance your career,” she notes. “Our experienced nurses stay on AMSU because they take pride mentoring nurses and are provided with endless opportunities to achieve their goals.” Even when one of her nurses moves on, she is full of pride. “We celebrate nursing growth, new career opportunities, and each year you are an AMSU RN,” Keara says. “A nurse can expect me to help them achieve their goals even if they don’t involve staying on AMSU. We take pride in seeing our nurses find the perfect career opportunities and state, ‘That is an AMSU-raised nurse.’”
She loves the opportunities she has found within OSF HealthCare. “I tell all new nurses to hold on tight. Nursing is a journey. You will laugh, cry and make long-lasting friendships with your peers, so choose a department that you feel connected with,” Keara says. “Always go with your gut and remember nursing chose you.” iBi